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Al Panlilio hopeful Justin Brownlee will be Gilas' key guy for WCQ Window 6 as naturalization passes House justice panel level

Justin Brownlee is needed for the sixth window of the FIBA WCQ says SBP president Al Panlilio. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio thanked the House Committee on Justice for swiftly passing House Bill 825 in the committee level.

The said legislation is for the naturalization of Ginebra import Justin Brownlee that could make him eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas in international competitions.

"The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and I, in behalf of all basketball-loving Filipinos who eagerly await the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in February next year, would like to thank the House Committee On Justice, chaired by Rep. Juliet Marie De Leon Ferrer, for approving on initial hearing the application for naturalization of Justin Brownlee. I also am grateful to 1-Pacman Party-List Rep. Mikee Romero for authoring House Bill 825, and to Deputy Speaker and Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno and other members of the Justice Committee, for their prompt approval of the bill which will now be submitted to the House Committee on Rules for second reading," SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement on Wednesday night, hours after the bill passed the first reading.

There is no timeline yet on when the second reading will be made, although Ferrer asked the Congress to approve the bill in the final reading before they take on a break from Dec. 14-Jan. 22.

The SBP hopes that Brownlee will attain his Filipino citizenship in time for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, in which he is eyed as Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized player.

"As celebrated as Gilas Pilipinas’ Middle East victories over Jordan and Saudi Arabia in Window 5 of the Asian Qualifiers were, the hometown crowd, I believe, would want nothing more than to savor two more Gilas PH triumphs—against Lebanon and Jordan—right in our own country to wrap up preparation and as prelude to the FIBA World Cup in August 2023. Hopefully we can achieve that, and this time with Justin Brownlee leading the way," Panlilio continued.

If approved in the congressional level, the Senate can now tackle its own version of the Brownlee naturalization bill authored by Senator Bato Dela Rosa.

If approved as well, the agreed upon bilateral version of the bill will be transmitted to President Bongbong Marcos for the final signature to turn it into a law.

While the SBP is waiting for it, Panlilio is already thanking the legislators for their quick action.

"Again, my sincerest thanks to the House and the Senate for their unbridled support to Philippine basketball," Panlilio concluded.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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